The number of Indian students attending US colleges has seen a significant 35% increase, contributing to the highest single-year growth in international student enrollment in over 40 years. A joint study by the State Department and the Institute of International Education revealed that the overall international student population in the US surged by 12% during the 2022-23 academic year, with more than 1 million students from abroad – the highest since 2019-20.
CEO of the Institute of International Education, Allan E Goodman, emphasized that the US remains the preferred destination for international students worldwide. The report indicates a robust educational relationship between the US and India, with nearly 269,000 Indian students enrolled, surpassing previous records and ranking second only to China. Most of these students pursued graduate programs, particularly in science, technology, and business fields.
While China still tops the list with 290,000 students, its numbers have decreased for the third consecutive year, reflecting a shift in demand. The study attributes this decline to strained international relations, competition from UK and Canadian universities, and extended travel restrictions in Asia during the pandemic.
US universities have strategically focused on recruiting in India, given the predicted population growth, with students from India now outnumbering those from China in 24 states. Graduate programs in the US remained the primary attraction for international students for the second consecutive year, experiencing a 21% growth, while undergraduate numbers saw a modest 1% increase.
The reversal of the previous decade’s trend, where undergraduate enrollments dominated, is credited to the popularity of math and computer science programs, witnessing a 20% surge. Engineering and business programs followed suit, collectively constituting over half of all international students in the US.
This surge nearly restores international student numbers to pre-pandemic levels, reaching close to the 2018 peak of 1.1 million students. Despite comprising only 5.6% of all college students, international students play a significant role in US higher education, contributing to global exchange and providing substantial revenue through higher tuition rates.
Following China and India, other nations sending the most students to the US include South Korea, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Nigeria. The study also highlights a record number of students from countries like Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, Italy, Nepal, Pakistan, and Spain in the previous school year.
While international student numbers are on the rise, many US colleges continue to grapple with declining domestic enrollment. Overall college enrollment remains sluggish, and a separate study by the National Student Clearinghouse indicates a 3.6% decrease in freshman enrollment for fall 2023.